The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
Following their 15-7 playoff win against Brea Olinda, the Long Beach Poly Girls’ Water Polo team looked to create more history as they made their second ever second round playoff appearance in team history. The Jackrabbit’s hosted La Habra at Cabrillo, a team they had lost a close game to earlier in the season. Poly was able to seek revenge with a 7-3 win, bringing a potential push to a championship closer in sight.
Poly Coach Ryan Rockenbach said earlier in the season that his goal was to just make it past the first round for the team’s second time ever. After exceeding his goal with his teams’ second round win on Thursday, Rockenbach looks to keep his team focused on the game infront of them as a championship starts becoming more and more achievable.
“I’m incredibly proud of this team,” said Rockenbach. “The message that I had for them going into it was that we passed our first goal and the next thing that we can do is focus on the next game. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves and I think our girls showed that tonight.”
Poly got off to a quick start, eventually leading 6-2 going into half. Coach Rockenbach knew it was important to capture and hold onto a lead against a tough team in La Habra, who they had taken a loss to earlier in the season.
“This is a team that we lost to earlier in the season, so I told them we need to get a lead early and keep it and that’s exactly what they did. I think we could have beaten that team by more goals. We had a lot of missed opportunities, but, in this instance it’s a good thing going into the next game knowing we have something to improve on. So we’re looking forward to it,” said Rockenbach.
The Jackrabbits used forced turnovers as well as their speed on fast breaks to get quality looks at the goal. They finished with a total of 11 steals and 22 shot attempts.
Senior Ariel Cordova and Coach Rockenbach both spoke after the game about the importance of the teams’ speed.
“With having a lot of fast girls on the team, we look to keep our stamina up and never back down even when we’re up,” said Cordova. “We always remember to go 100% at any moment in the game”
“(Speed) has definitely been a staple for this team,” Rockenbach said. “We have a lot of fast girls on our team and it’s definitely one of the things that helps us a lot offensively. We score a lot on transition, and even if we don’t get an easy transition goal, our speed helps set our offense and puts the defense on their back foot. It just helps keep our intensity up. We play a lot better when we’re playing intense and fast paced rather than slowing things down “
Poly was able to get three girls with multiple goals, as Alyssa Greenwood, Anna Mor, and Ariel Cordova each had two goals. Leslie Vargas was also able to find the back of the cage for the Jackrabbits.
Mor carried the majority of the load, getting eight looks at the goal, some just missing by a matter of inches. Mor said it takes everything her team has to be able to get as many opportunities as possible.
“It’s ‘work your soul off’ every single game, that’s what I say. As long as we’re putting all our work into it and every single piece of us into it we’re gonna score and make things happen.”
Senior’s such as Ariel Cordova look to make the most of their final opportunity in the postseason, after falling short the past few years.
“I’m really excited and I feel like we can go all the way,” said Cordova. “I’ve been working for this since I was a freshman when I joined club, and I’m ready to win. (Having this opportunity for my last year) is very special to me.”
The Jackrabbits will look to keep things rolling as they take on Irvine in the third round of the CIF-SS playoffs for a chance to go to a championship.